Dame Vera Lynn ‘horrified’ over decision to scrap free TV licences for over-75’s

Ditchling resident and forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn has criticised the Government and BBC for a decision to scrap free TV licences for the over-75’s.

The 102-year-old said she was ‘horrified’ by the decision, which was announced by the BBC last month.

She said: “I am horrified with the move which would potentially deprive older people of a vital source of communication with the outside world.

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“I know there are many elderly people in our area on limited resources who would really struggle to pay for a TV licence.

Ditchling resident and forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn

“They are hard-working individuals who have given so much to our country and now when they need a bit of financial help – this valuable service is being taken away. It just seems so unfair.”

From June 2020, residents aged over 75 will no longer be entitled to a free TV licence.

They will now have to pay more than £150 a year to watch TV legally.

The BBC claims the move will help the poorest pensioners, with those who receive Pension Credit and live alone still eligible for the free licence, potentially affecting 1.5million people.

Dame Vera Lynn at her home in Ditchling aged 97. Photo by Steve Robards

However, the decision has sparked outrage across the country with many angry viewers going on protests in a bid for the decision to be overturned.

Dame Vera Lynn also joins many other celebrities who have expressed their dismay at the decision.

She said: “As we get older, it’s important to stay in touch with what’s going on in the world and the television provides this and can be great company for many people who live alone.

“I’m appalled to learn that elderly residents could face a visit from the ‘TV Fee Licence Police’ when senior citizens are told not to open the door to strangers.

Dame Vera Lynn

“This unjust decision could impact the lives of more than 3.7 million people.”

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The BBC said its decision to scrap the licences followed a consultation with more than 190,000 people of which 52 per cent said they were in favour of reforming or abolishing free TV licences.

BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said: “Ultimately, the Board did not think it right to abolish all free TV licences.

“Copying the current scheme was ultimately untenable. It would have cost £745 million a year by 2021/22 – and risen to over one billion by the end of the next decade.

“£745 million a year is equivalent to around a fifth of the BBC’s spending on services.”

He added: “The scale of the current concession and its quickly rising cost would have meant profoundly damaging closures of major services that we know audiences – and older audiences in particular – love, use, and value every day.

“It protects the poorest over 75s, while protecting the services that they, and all audiences, love. It is the fairest and best outcome.”